We would to introduce this wonderfully empowering lady – Jenny Doherty! She is a female electrician, wifey and mum of two! She is currently age 35 and decided to enter the world of electrical installation aged 34 to fulfil her dreams. Aged 16 jenny wanted to join the industry and was unfortunately swayed by gender job role stereotypes! However, she was later motivated by an increase in women fulfilling their dreams of obtaining a skilled trade and decided to make the move with the inspiration of her two young daughters Jenny wanted to lead by example and promote equality! Please see Jenny's fantastic and enlightening interview below.
(image: Jenny Doherty using our Artline EPKR Builders Marker in white and our Artline Paint Marker)
Why did you want to be an electrician?
It's something I always wanted to do but on leaving school it wasn't really a female orientated environment.
Did you ever feel ‘uneasy’ about entering a male dominated industry?
Yes, I did back when I was 16 as it was a very gender biased industry. However, this time round there were so many females sharing their trade careers it didn't bother me. Also being very into contact sports from a young age I'm used to being around male oriented groups of people.
As a female in this industry have you faced any challenges? If so, what are they?
I don't think I have faced any major challenges as a female when it comes to the actual job as I'm learning the same as anyone else. I've been lucky in the sense that the tradesman I work with regularly don't see Gender - they just see me as a "tradesperson". There have been rare occasions where I have felt that certain males have seen me being female as a weakness. They might offer to do things for me without knowing if I can or not however, at the same time they're very encouraging when they've seen me continue without them and achieve the goal.
If anything, the main challenge I have is childcare. My husband is a serving member of the armed forces and I have 2 children. One of which has fairly complex Autism and attends a special needs school. The school are amazing but sadly there isn't anything to cater for her outside of school hours like there is for my eldest. This can prove difficult when it comes to working hours. Without having my husband home its very restricting and if they're are unwell or it's school holidays then I can't work. Which is why I've chosen the subcontracting route and paying for course independently instead of a fixed apprenticeship.
What gives you drive and motivation?
I have 2 young daughters. Since becoming a mum I felt a lot like I forgot myself. Outside of being a wife and a mum there just was no me anymore. After a long battle with mental health and support from various services after a very severe relapse with PTSD I eventually realised that I needed something for myself in order to function effectively as a wife and mother. I needed to show my girls that life can be tough. But also, that it's OK for things to be tough it's just how we manage it. They are my biggest motivation to achieve things outside of the usual day to day life.
What goals do you wish to accomplish throughout your career?
Throughout my career I really just want to offer a good quality service that customers will be happy with, want to return and make recommendations to others! If I can accomplish this at the age of 35 and retraining then it shows anything is possible.
What are the pros and cons of being a female electrician?
Cons of being female I can't really name if I am completely honest. Gender stereotypes happen in just about everything you do. People have certain expectations dependant on their opinions and beliefs and that is OK. I would imagine it no different to a Male being a stay-at-home dad. For me if that works for a family then great! There is no reason they can't do that.
A massive pro I have to admit is the impressed looks and comments you get when you tell people what you do. It's always a shock to most but generally the feedback is positive.
I also have experienced a sense of certain customers feeling more settled by having me there on a job. I also have been able to offer practical advice when rewiring a house based on socket locations and lighting to fit round a family. My boss really pushed me to chip in as we walked round and quoted as I had a similar lifestyle to the client and could offer good suggestions.
What advice would you give to other females that are considering becoming a skilled tradesperson?
I would say don't let anything hold you back. If it's what you want to do then go for it. The platform for women is growing and it's becoming "the norm!"
The main bit of advice would really be not to feel like other trades people are treating you a certain way because you're female. A lot of the time it can be easy to feel that way but really, you're not being treated any differently. Being able to accept criticism positively, learn and move on from it will be your best tool in the box!
You can find Jenny on LinkedIn - @JennyDoherty